Nico Rosberg broke Lewis Hamilton’s clean sweep for the Hungarian Grand Prix after securing pole position. A lap time of 1:22:715 was enough for Rosberg to edge out Vettel to take the top spot, following another disastrous qualifying for Hamilton..
Across all three free practice sessions, Hamilton had ended the session on top. But those sessions were in hot, sunny conditions. Not the same conditions experienced at the start of qualifying with dark clouds looming over the circuit with a 30% threat of rain.
At the start of Q1 the track remained dry with temperatures reaching 47 degrees Celsius as Jules Bianchi led the field from the pits. He was soon joined by a lot of the other drivers, mostly on the medium compound tyres, unlike the Caterham pair who were both on the softs.
Without even setting a time, we had an early retirement with Pastor Maldonado pulling to the side of the track with a technical problem. Without setting a time in Q1, Maldonado is set to start tomorrow’s Grand Prix from last position, providing there are no penalties awarded to the cars ahead.
One of the cars directly ahead of Maldonado could be the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton, unless the team start him from the pit lane. Hamilton joined Pastor on the side line of Q1 after the pole favourite was forced into bringing his car to a halt. As the Brit made his way around the final sector of the track, the rear of his car set ablaze and his session was over. Mercedes later confirmed the fire was due to a fuel leak.
Walking away from his burning car, Lewis’ body language said all that needs to be said. Hanging his head in his hand, it was clear to see just how dejected Hamilton was. Back in Germany last week, Hamilton ran out of luck in qualifying when his brake failed, and his luck appears yet to return.
As for times, Button was the early pace setter in his McLaren just as Hamilton’s fire started. Rosberg soon was making his way up the leader board as well after setting the fastest time in the first sector. And for sector times, amazingly it was Gutierrez in his Sauber who was the early pace setter in the middle sector.
Rosberg took the top spot early on with the medium compound tyres, but it was the Toro Rosso of Vergne who finished Q1 on top with a 1:24:941. Fastest in the middle sector, Vergne managed to beat the Mercedes to the top spot with Kvyat in third.
Other than the retirement of Hamilton from qualifying, the other big name to drop out of qualifying in Q1 was Kimi Raikkonen in the Ferrari. The team took the risk of not sending Kimi out on the soft compound tyres but his 1:26:792 was not enough to keep him in qualifying after Jules Bianchi eliminated the Ferrari driver. Bianchi, potentially the man to replace Kimi at Ferrari when he moves on, knocked the Finn out of qualifying in the final moments after the flag dropped and Bianchi improved to take sixteenth.
Out of Q1 were: 17) Raikkonen, 18) Kobayashi, 19) Chilton, 20) Ericsson [21) Hamilton, 22) Maldonado with no times set]
Sergio Perez was the first man out of the pit lane at the start of Q2. His initial time of a 1:25:211 however was not enough to keep him at the top as both Williams, Kvyat and Hulkenberg all beat him.
For Rosberg however, the top spot was all his as a 1:23:310 rocketed him away from Bottas by almost seven tenths. The Red Bull pair soon were stamping their mark on second and third however as the two set almost identical lap times.
Unfortunately for Sergio Perez, he would be the next driver eliminated from qualifying with a car issue. A hydraulic leak on his Force India resulted in the Mexican staying in the pits.
As the chequered flag waved to mark the end of Q2, both McLaren’s were able to improve and move themselves away from the drop zone. Button improved to take P7 with Magnussen tucking in behind for eighth. The threat of being pegging back into the drop zone for them was soon eliminated as well after a spin for Kvyat.
Under breaking for turn 12, the young Russian dipped his front left onto the grass and sent his Toro Rosso into a spin. Bringing out the yellow flags, meaning other drivers were unable to improve.
Joining Kvyat knocked out of Q2 were Sutil (12th) Perez, Gutierrez, Grosjean and Bianchi.
Now onto Q3 the rain had began to fall but drivers went out on the soft compound tyres in the hope they could get a quick lap in before the rain got to heavy. Nico Rosberg was the first man to go into the wet first corner, but was unable to make it stick and sailed on into the run off.
Behind Nico Rosberg was the McLaren rookie, Kevin Magnussen. Going down the pit straight, the rain didn’t appear to be too heavy. However, under breaking Kevin was unable to slow down like Nico, but got on the grass and span into the barrier. Not only did this mean Magnussen was out of qualifying, but it brought out the red flag.
The red flag potentially helped the other drivers as Hulkenberg reported the rest of the track was fine. This meant when the session was back underway everyone headed out to the dry track on the dry tyres.
With nine minuets of the session still remaining, Mercedes were aiming to carry out two stints with Rosberg. But for Bottas, he was flying from the off. Going fastest in the first sector by over a second and set the fastest lap of the session so far. A second quicker than Ricciardo who was fastest in the middle sector.
As the first lap times hit the board, Ricciardo and Rosberg were being pushed down the order by Alonso and Button. However, Ricciardo found time on his second lap to move up to second behind Bottas who had pitted.
But for drivers still out on track, Sebastian Vettel stormed to the top spot with a 1:23:415. Over a second faster than his team-mate. With the sun shinning over the Hungaroring, the track conditions kept improving and Rosberg romped to the top.
Now into the final stints of qualifying, Vettel was informed that there was a little bit of rain down at the first corner. But that didn’t stop everyone returning to action. From the off drivers were improving on their previous best times with Button moving up to P4. Valtteri Bottas was the next man to improve as he crossed the line, but he ended the lap one tenth down on Rosberg at the top.
Into the final lap of qualifying, Sebastian Vettel was once again improving as he went purple in the second sector. Come the end of the lap Vettel took provisional pole with a 1:23:201 but with Rosberg still to complete his lap. And when Rosberg finished that lap he secured pole position as he became the first man to break into the 1:22’s.
Valtteri Bottas and Daniel Ricciardo will make up the second row for the start of tomorrow’s Grand Prix. As the two finished their laps within four hundredths of a second of each other.
Tomorrow’s Grand Prix is set to be exciting as Hamilton works to battle his way through the field to limit the damages. But at the front Rosberg may have a fight on his hands if his start isn’t perfect.
|2||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:25.662||1:23.606||1:23.201||16|
|4||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:25.495||1:23.676||1:23.391||18|
|9||27||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||1:26.149||1:24.647||1:24.775||22|
|13||11||Sergio Perez||Force India-Mercedes||1:25.910||1:25.211||11|
|21||44||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||No time||2|
|22||13||Pastor Maldonado||Lotus-Renault||No time||1|
|Q1 107% Time||1:30.886|